Former first lady speaks at PX of life in White House
June 30, 2010
By Joy Pariante
FORT HOOD, Texas (Army News Service, June 30, 2010) -- Former first lady Laura Bush visited the Clear Creek Post Exchange here for a few hours Sunday to meet Soldiers, retirees, civilians and Family members while signing copies of her new autobiography, "Spoken from the Heart."
Bush said she knew from the time she stepped into the White House with her husband, former President George W. Bush, she would be expected to someday publish an account of her time there.
Serving as a wife and mother, she also took on the added roles as an ambassador for the United States and the spokesperson for a number of causes including literacy, education and women's equality. Bush also described growing up in small town Midland, Texas, and her life before serving as the first lady of Texas and, later, the United States.
Bush said she thought her autobiography was best written in a very candid and open way.
"It gave me the chance to tell people what I think and what my life was like in a very personal way," she explained.
To make the reading experience more meaningful and personal, Bush didn't avoid discussing any topics in her writing. She wrote about the car accident she caused in high school which killed a close friend, losing her father slowly to Alzheimer's disease and how Sept. 11, 2001 and the subsequent Global War on Terrorism affected the country and those within the walls of the White House.
"I wanted to remind people what Sept. 11 was like so we can keep people thinking ... of why it's important for the U.S. and Americans to support our troops," Bush said. "I wanted to invoke the feelings of 9-11 and remind people what it was like and why we're (still) in Afghanistan and Iraq."
The deepest feelings Bush described in her book are what helps the public connect with her through her words. She said she frequently receives letters from people wanting to share their stories of losing a parent, those who've had trouble conceiving or those who were affected by a vehicle accident.
Sgt. Patrick McCombs, with the 664th Ordnance Company, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), said he enjoyed reading the book because many of Bush's stories about her parents reminded him of his own.
The Fort Hood book signing was an opportunity for Bush to see some of the servicemembers and Families to whom she and her husband dedicated many prayers, condolences and heartfelt thanks, she said.
Bush said even though her father served during World War II, it wasn't until her husband was working side-by-side with military every day that she really learned how much military members contribute to the American fabric.
"The military became part of our life every day, every single day," she explained.
As the commander in chief of America's armed forces, President Bush was responsible for determining the military's missions and ensuring servicemembers' well-being.
"George did not want war. No president ever does," the former first lady wrote in her autobiography. "He knew how precious any child is, and every person sent to war is someone's child and often someone's mother and father too."
The feeling that comes with sending Soldiers to war and the gravity of those choices were concepts that kept the president up late at night, just thinking, Bush wrote in the portion of her book that described the early days in Afghanistan and, later, in Iraq.
Bush said she "wants our troops now to know they're part of a history of liberators."
An example of this sharing of freedom that's close to Bush's heart is the progress made regarding women's equality and rights in the Middle East. Without today's servicemembers, Afghan women couldn't be educators, young girls couldn't go to school and Iraqi women wouldn't be business owners, she noted.
While her husband was in office, Bush had one of the highest approval ratings of any first lady.